Fortunately, parents are entitled to take parental leave in Germany. However, special protection against dismissal only applies to men seven weeks before the birth. That's why I paid very close attention to timelines and kept my plan to take parental leave a secret for a long time. I was afraid of being rejected by my superiors. I even thought that in the worst case I could be fired for flimsy reasons. My application for parental leave was approved in writing, without any issues. There was never a discussion with me about my plans, goals, or about my potential replacement during parental leave. That gave me a very clear feeling of being excluded, as well as even more encouragement to change employers after my parental leave ended.
As a dad, I've experienced many happy moments. I was totally in awe when my son smiled at me for the very first time. I will never forget that. It was similar when he said "tata" (Polish for "dad") for the first time. My heart leapt from happiness.
The protection of (expectant) parents is already very good in Germany, at least in comparison to other countries. I would change two things, though. First, I would find the right to a monthlong paternity leave right after the birth to be very important. This would ensure that dads are definitely at home after the birth. This should also be separate from the actual parental leave. But unlike in Austria, the salary should continue to be paid out. Of course, this regulation should also apply to parents in same-sex relationships. Secondly, the entitlement to part-time work should be secured even more firmly into law. So far, the application for part-time work can only be rejected for reasons critical to operations. From my own experience, however, I know that these can be found quickly - even if they are not legal. The only way to clarify this is to go to the labor court. This is a tedious struggle that costs energy and time- two things that parents tend not to have.